A Must See: Jersey Moves! Festival of Dance

March 13, 2012

Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company

Anyone and everyone curious about dance, any genre of dance, should not miss the Jersey Moves! performances at New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24. In fact, this is an excellent opportunity for those who have not yet had the pleasure of the experience of a live dance performance to attend their first.

As mentioned in my last blog post, dance is alive and well in New Jersey.  We Jerseyans should be proud of our vibrant, exciting, and diverse dance community and its artistic achievements.  These performances are the chance to discover eleven of the leading professional dance groups in the state. Performances include several types of dance from classical ballet and modern dance to Spanish flamenco, Indian Bharata Natyam, tap and traditional West African dance.  The festival allows even a seasoned dance fan to enjoy something new.

As Robert Johnson, Dance critic for the Star Ledger and co-curator of the festival explains, “The pieces may be flashy and grand, or quietly intimate. Some offer a dramatic narrative, while others are purely formal compositions. They may embody faith or sensuality, but all demonstrate the body’s unique ability to reflect the human experience and to describe our relations with the surrounding world. “

Saturday evening’s performance includes works by Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre (flamenco), Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company (modern), Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company (modern), New Jersey Ballet (classical ballet), and Umoja Dance Companies (West African).  The evening will include live music and choreography by George Balanchine.

Sunday afternoon’s performance include works by American Repertory Ballet (classical ballet), Claire Porter (modern), Freespace Dance (modern), New Jersey Tap Ensemble (rhythm tap), Ramya Ramnarayan (classical Indian dance), and Randy James Dance Works (modern).

The festival also serves as a vehicle to cultivate an audience for New Jersey dance.  My wish is that after seeing these inspiring performances, audience members will support the companies at other times and other events.   It has also been difficult for New Jersey companies to be presented at New Jersey venues.  I hope that presenters see this as a viable means to showcase New Jersey dance, a few dance companies at a time.  Randy James, Artistic Director of Randy James Dance Works, adds, “I am happy that NJPAC sees how important it is to support New Jersey dance companies by presenting this festival.”

Personally, I am thrilled that these brilliant New Jersey companies are performing together.  This may be a unique combination, but I certainly anticipate that the festival will return—I hope with even more companies represented. “Many other works, equally good, might have been chosen to represent the local dance scene, but this collection is a terrific place to start,” commented Mr. Johnson.

Lisa Grimes, Dance New Jersey President and Freespace Dance Managing Director, adds “This is a wonderful opportunity to see the dance companies that are thriving and surviving. Each of the companies has worked so hard to keep performing, and this festival is a reward to the artists, choreographers and dance patrons! Working with this amazing talented group together under one roof is something that we always wanted to have happen. NJPAC, Robert Johnson, and Dance New Jersey deserve kudos for all their work and support.”

Macada Brandl is the Executive Director of Dance New Jersey, the premier organization serving dance companies, dancers and choreographers in New Jersey. She is a regular contributor to the Dodge blog.

Image courtesy Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company

Related article: Twin Spotlights on Dance in the New York Times